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Directed Reading - Thinking Activity


Directed Reading-Thinking Activity, or DR-TA, is a technique developed by Russell Stauffer (1969). DR-TA encourages students to make predictions while they are reading. After reading segments of a text, students stop, confirm or revise previous predictions, and make new predictions about what they will read next.


DR-TA serves several purposes:

  • Elicits students’ prior knowledge of the topic of the text.
  • Encourages students to monitor their comprehension while they are reading.
  • Sets a purpose for reading. (Students read to confirm and revise predictions they are making.)

How to Use DR-TA

  1. Choose a text. This strategy works well with both fiction and expository texts.
  2. Activate students’ prior knowledge. Have students read the title of the text, or tell them the topic of the text. Ask students to brainstorm a list of ideas that come to mind when they think about the title or topic. Write those ideas on the board. When using this strategy with a piece of fiction, you might have students brainstorm a list of ideas that they associate with an overriding theme of the story, the story’s setting, or the author of the story (if the author is someone with whom your students are familiar). Students will be making predictions about what they will read about in the text, so it is important that you activate their prior knowledge on a topic that will allow them to make predictions about what might be included in the text.
  3. Have students make predictions about what they will read about in the text. Use all available clues, including the index, table of contents pictures, charts, and tables in the text. Ask students to explain how they came up with their predictions. (Do not accept “I don’t know” answers.)
  4. Have students read a section of the text. Either have student volunteers read aloud, or have students read silently to themselves. If students are reading to themselves, be sure to indicate where students should stop reading. The teacher should predetermine stopping points. They should be points in the text that lend themselves to making predictions. In expository texts, good stopping points are often right after students have read a new heading or subheading in the text.
  5. Ask students to confirm or revise prior predictions, and make new predictions. Students should be encouraged to explain what in the text is causing them to confirm and/or revise prior predictions, and what is causing them to make the new predictions they are making.
  6. Continue steps 4 and 5 until students have finished reading.
  7. When students have finished reading, ask questions that promote thinking and discussion. Sample questions:
  • What is the main point the author is making in this story/article?  What supports your answer?
  • Do you agree with the author’s ideas or the character’s actions? Explain why or why not.
  • What is the mood of this piece and how does the author develop it?
  • What would you tell some one about this article/story if the person did not have time to read it?
  • Is this like something else you have read? Explain.

Stauffer, R. G. (1969). Directing reading maturity as a cognitive process. New York: Harper & Row.